Please contact Lisa Lavaysse if you would like to purchase the full PDF or a printed copy of this issue.
by Michael X. Bell
A lot of people often ask and wonder “How does a person manage to survive (mentally or physically) after spending nearly two decades of their life in prison? And what is to become of someone who gets incarcerated at age of fourteen and is sentenced to spend the rest of their entire life locked away in prison?” I ask, rather the conviction was just or not, how can such a cruel and unusual punishment tactic as giving kids life sentences in adult prisons, be allowable under the code of law?” And then there are those who believe, or at least “say” they believe that this doesn’t happen in America!
This Doesn’t Happen In America
This doesn’t happen in America? I cannot speak for every individual person who is in my same situation, or for people who are in situations similar to mine. Everyone should be entitled to speak on their own behalf. But do we really get the chance to do that? So while everyone’s situation and experience may be unique, there does exist some universal similarities. It is these universal similarities that I can and that I do speak, a universal truth. The truth of the situation is that when you are in prison, you are subjected to a constant and consistent state of suffering! In today’s society, prison is the closest thing/place we have as our own modern day version of Hell on earth. This constant suffering and the daily life in a prison environment is designed to attack your soul, your humanity, your mind, and your overall mental stability.
My city cries for help in so many ways.
People think we kill ‘cause we senseless,
but it’s really hurt and pain.
From the outside looking in, people say we’re possessed by evil. But come from where we come from,
we all trapped from our mindset to our freedom.
Look into my eyes, I’m the tears of my city,
I’m the pain and the suffering, I come from the nitty-gritty. All we want is help, we want a lending hand.
We want somebody to care and don’t give up and understand. Don’t judge us from the out, try to nd the inner secret,
We rob and take to survive and live,
no father so money becomes my leader
Oakland, California, the town as you may call it,
I was born and raised, streets full of murderers and cof ns. The cry of my city, a cry of pain and help, don’t judge us ‘Till you walk a mile in our shoes and see what’s up.
Our pain from death of close loved ones,
pain from fathers being absent.
Pain from lack of money and struggle,
The struggle causes us to hustle
by Vernon Smith
Greetings and peace and blessings upon each of every one of you that listen to this beat of ours… I want to share with you all some of my own “calls for help”– the first two relate to each other and a little bit more of what I’m going through now within my own journey. And the third one will be a shout-out and a cry-out for help from all of you, as you will see…
Alright now on my last prison term, which I ended up doing in ASP/Avenal from 2008-2012 I landed on the B-yard there, also known as the two yard. So anyways me being a Sephardic Messianic Jew, after saying what’s up to a few of my old friends, homies, and associates, I started searching for and seeking out any brothers of likeminded, beliefs based on the Torah roots teachings and come to find out we had a pretty nice strong minded congregation there- but not much at all in the way of any type of real programs or worship/service time in the chapel nor study books or Besorahs- bibles. Let alone DVD teachings or CDs within the two yard chapel there. So we all started to gather out on the yard on Shabbat/Saturday mornings between 9:30 a.m. and 11:00 a.m.
by Big Boone
I used to question life. I used to plot on the lives of others with malicious intent. My own life was a test to see how far I could push myself: how much I could take and how it would change me, to hurt another person, to have low regard for life. How would it make me feel; would I be the same person after that I was before? Would it make me a better person or a worse person? Would I feel sorry or not?
The things I did and things I learned made me the person I am today. The person I am is the person I wanted to be and knew I would become: a strong individual, who can survive when others would die, who could stand in the storm of life (guns, gangs, drugs, death, poverty, prison) and say “you can’t break me”. I am a person who has nothing and still strives to live; who does not fear death; who does things just because I can. The life I lived is what made me the person I am. I’m a firm believer in the idea that what makes you laugh will make you cry. What makes you will break you.
by Phillip Kelly
In my opinion, a safe community consists of positive, happy, genuine people, plenty of resources; i.e., money for after school programs, new supplies every quarter like books, pencils, paper, whatever is needed or used mostly by the kids, clean streets and public spaces, no graf ti, homeless people, prostitution, and drug users.
I would say a place like Beverly Hills is very safe; mainly from the many white superstars that live there with plenty of money; a vigilant police force and other members of that community who care and take pride in how the community functions and the ‘rich’ that live there.
My old neighborhood is the exact opposite of what I just described above. Gang plagued, drug infested, crime riddled, bad people with bad intentions in general! The schools are like gang playgrounds and hang out. Families are broken; both parents are not in the home, the home itself is very dysfunctional, and the people have nothing positive to look for.